Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

One Snowy Week in Springhollow Lucy Knott 4*#Review @LucyCKnott @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #RomCom #OneSnowyWeek #Festive #SecondChance #Romance #uplit #GuestPost

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.

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‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ –

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a charming story of two childhood friends reunited as adults. Both are different people but can they recapture their friendship? The characters are flawed and relatable. Scarlett is likeable and easy to empathise. Her originality shines through, and she grows as a character throughout the story in a satisfying way.

This festive story is an enjoyable read, with realistic characters relationships and gentle romance. The small-town setting is perfect for the festive time of year.

The Inspiration behind my story. Lucy Knott

There was a chill in the air, a cool wind that nipped at my cheeks as I walked the busy sidewalks of Times Square. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck being careful not to bump into the fast walking pedestrians doing their late night shopping or possibly heading out to see a show, or just simply going about their day to day lives in New York City a day after Christmas. Myself, I was on a mission. The festive spirit lingered in the night, twinkling lights and Christmas décor sparkled from every shop window and I had to find Broadway.

Ticket in hand, a smile permanently etched on my face, I find my destination. After taking in the bold, bright, and beautiful posters and the lettering that read ‘First Date,’ I ducked inside and took my seat. Two hours of pure joy, laughter and entertainment followed as I experienced my first Broadway show in New York. The show was fantastic, the music was fabulous and the fact that I was getting to watch one of my favourite actors, Zachary Levi, perform in front of my very eyes was a dream come true.

Shuffling out of the building and back into the frosty night among other Zac fans, I remember the message I got earlier from my sister, Kelly, who was all the way in England. The message had told me that Zac said he would come out after the show to say hi to people. So, I zip up my coat to ward off the cold and stick around with the crowd.

It doesn’t take long before Zac emerges, and I stand back in awe. I calmly wait my turn to meet him and watch as he puts everyone at ease and makes time for them. When it’s my turn to say hello, he beams and asks me questions, asks where Kelly is and about my being a wrestler and I in turn tell him of his awesomeness. We say our goodbyes and I proceed to skip around New York City delighting in my own little Fairy Tale of New York as I stand in front of the Rockefeller tree unable to wipe the smile off my face.

And just like that a story idea was born.

That was back in 2013. It would take seven years before my initial story idea and hastily written out three chapters became a fully-fledged world in my head and before that spark of inspiration became ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow.’ I met a hero of mine that night and it was the catalyst for my book that looks at embracing who you are and never losing that childhood joy within. I feel that often when we grow up there is a lot of pressure to act and be a certain way. Society and social media seem to dictate what is cool, sophisticated, and empowering. It likes to tell you where you should be and what you should have achieved by a certain age. But what happens when you feel like you don’t fit in? What do you do when it always feels like you’re an outsider looking in? What happens when your dreams aren’t approved by others? What do you do when you don’t look how other people think you should look or act how people think you should act?

When I was thirteen, I loved the pop punk band Good Charlotte. I think it surprised people at school considering the first ever concert I attended was Gareth Gates and therefore liking Good Charlotte didn’t quite fit. To the school’s resident rockers, I wasn’t a proper punk. At that very same age I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be a Professional Wrestler. However, two shy girls (my twin sister Kelly and I) with no social skills, a penchant for awkwardness and a love of baggy kaki pants and oversized wrestling tees, did not a wrestler make. The women on TV were models, how on earth were two small girls from Stockport going to be wrestlers? The answer to that question according to the other kids at school and most of the adults around me was quite simple, they were definitely not going to be wrestlers, and it was a rather humorous and entertaining anecdote. The laughs were a plenty. Needless to say, I felt like I spent the majority of my teen years trying to justify what I liked and what I wanted to do.

All these year later, I’m thirty-two years old, had a successful wrestling career, still love Good Charlotte and have realised that I don’t have to fit into a box. However, that still doesn’t stop those niggling insecurities. Nowadays, someone doesn’t even have to make a comment about me acting my age or looking my age for me to feel anxious, those nerves are always at the back of my mind. I can’t seem to shake them. Those underlying fears are where Scarlett’s character in ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ came from. I wanted to write a character who felt a little hopeless and didn’t fit in and I wanted to see her come out at the other end feeling strong, confident and inspired by all the things that make her, her.

Furthermore, I wanted to write a story that saw two people carry the things they loved as children with them into adulthood and not feel ashamed of doing so. I wanted Scarlett and Devon to be unapologetic about their love of Superheroes because life is way too short to not enjoy or shout from the rooftops about the things, the people and the adventures that make us happy.

Seven years after meeting Zachary Levi on that magical New York night I got to meet him again at my first ever Comic Con while he was promoting Shazam. I loved that when he talked about being a Superhero his eyes lit up and he wasn’t afraid of being excited about it. I loved that while doing press for the movie that you could clearly see how enthusiastic he was about becoming a real-life Superhero. When I met Zac again, he was just as kind, wonderful and inspirational. To me, he’s always embodied joy, fun and love and ultimately, I wanted ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to be a combination of all those things.

‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to me is about overcoming those childhood scars, figuring out who you are and loving that person the whole way. It’s about fighting for the people that make us feel seen and realising that you are worthy of your own fairy tale. (of New York.)

So, next time the people at your local Cinema save you a life size cardboard cut-out of Shazam, (see, there will be people that get you) and you have to walk past all the hip, cool and quaint restaurants where people are enjoying a sophisticated cocktail and chilled beer on the patios outside and they offer you odd and curious looks as you hold said giant cardboard cut-out, hold your head high, don’t feel embarrassed and rock it because you in all your nerdy, goofy, beautiful glory are SHAMAZING!

All my love

Lucy xx

Lucy Knott

Lucy Knott is a former professional wrestler with a passion for storytelling. Now, instead of telling her stories in the ring, she’s putting pen to paper, fulfilling another lifelong dream in becoming an Author.

Inspired by her Italian Grandparents, when she is not writing you will most likely find her cooking, baking and devouring Italian food, in addition to learning Italian and daydreaming of trips to Italy.

Along with her twin sister, Kelly, Lucy runs TheBlossomTwins.com, where she enthusiastically shares her love for books, baking and Italy, with daily posts, reviews and recipes.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Humour, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

A Village Vacancy Julie Houston 5*#Review @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #VillageLife #Romance #Friendships #Family #Secrets #Humour #BlogTour #BookReview #AVillageVacancy #GuestPost

Village Affair comes a laugh out loud new Westenbury tale…

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.

As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A Village Vacancy takes the reader back to the Westenbury for another tale of laughter, love and life. This is a standalone story, but many of the characters previously featured in other books about Westenbury, and you will be intrigued to see what has gone before.

The funeral of one of the village’s enigmatic women introduces the cast of characters. Amanda’s loss is felt both in the community and her personal life. A mystery surrounds her untimely death, which gives this tale of village life an added dimension.

Grace takes centre stage in this story as she copes with her dysfunctional family life and wonders if romantic happiness is within her grasp. Westenbury experiences city problems in this story which are topical and give the story its contemporary edge.

There’s humour, mystery, romance and poignancy in this insightful story which draws the reader into the village and the lives of its inhabitants. The characters are believable and relatable, which makes their stories engaging and memorable.

Julie Houston

Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

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Guest Post Julie Houston September 2020 –

A VILLAGE VACANCY – Grace

To celebrate the publication of A Village Vacancy, I thought it might be a good idea – as well as helpful to readers who have never met her before – to write a little biography of Grace. While all the Midhope/Westenbury novels can be read as total and utter standalones, this, my eighth novel, gives Grace a leading role as well as showing a greater insight into her character, and I wanted to give a little background information to readers who may have never met her before.

So, while my first novel – Goodness, Grace and Me – has Grace playing a major role, the book is essentially Harriet’s story. In this first book, we learn that Grace and Harriet meet on their very first day at grammar school and both become infatuated with a fifth-former, one Amanda Goodners or Little Miss Goodness as Grace dubs her a couple of years later when Amanda is promoted to head girl. The three women meet up again as adults and Grace, staggering from husband Dan’s infidelity, falls for Mandy Henderson’s (as she now is) much younger son, Sebastian.

In the One Saving Grace, while again this is essentially Harriet’s story, Grace is suffering. Unable to conceive a much-longed for child with husband Dan, she is absolutely over the moon when she falls unexpectedly pregnant to Seb Henderson. Unfortunately, Grace suffers severe post-natal depression which renders her unable to look after her son, Jonty properly and destroys the already flimsy relationship with Seb. My intention was to show that Post-natal depression does not discriminate or care who it chooses and can – and does – affect even the most confident, intelligent and outgoing women such as Grace.

I’ve always wanted the reader to have an impression of Grace as a strong, confident and independent woman which she clearly is. While An Off Piste Christmas takes Grace onto the next stage of her life when she becomes the mother of Pietronella who has Down’s Syndrome, all my other Westenbury novels feature Grace only fleetingly where she, together with Harriet, take on much smaller cameo roles.

It was an email from a reader last year asking what was happening to Grace, and could I write a book with her as the main character, that brought about the idea for A Village Vacancy. In this book, published by Aria on October 22nd, I have allowed Grace centre stage. While she might have perhaps previously played a lesser role to Harriet, this one is certainly Grace’s story.

A couple of reviewers have referred to Grace as a maneater who appears happy to discard her husband, Dan when the marriage breaks down once more and Dan moves out. This certainly wasn’t my intention to have Grace viewed as such. Yes, she makes a huge mistake at the start of the book, but this, I want the reader to appreciate, is totally out of character. She tries to argue that she is a strong, independent woman who has the right, on occasion, to please herself as to how she behaves, but deep down she is embarrassed and ashamed as to what she got up to on that night out in Leeds, and I would hate the reader to think of her as naturally promiscuous; she isn’t. Foolhardy, yes, amoral, no.

I wanted to show that the breakdown of two major relationships together with the terrible post-natal depression have combined to leave Grace both vulnerable and desperate for a serious, ‘proper’ relationship for both herself and her two children. If she comes a bit of a cropper in the attempt, I hope the reader will not condemn her but empathise, sympathise even, with what she’s going through. After all, life for many of us isn’t always that straightforward. We are human; we make mistakes.

Luckily, for Grace, there will be a happy ever after.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Friendship, Guest post, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Do Her No Harm Naomi Joy #GuestPost @naomijoyauthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Secrets #Lies #DomesticSuspense #Friendship #DoHerNoHarm

One unsolved murder. A best friend determined to right the wrongs of the past.

On the 21st August Tabitha Rice disappeared without a trace. All the signs point to murder, but no signs point to a murderer. The easiest answer is her husband, Rick. But he protests his innocence and there is little proof he is the murderer.

Annabella knows there is more to the story than what the police are telling. Tabitha was her best friend and she vows to uncover the truth.

As Annabella delves further into the past, she uncovers sides to Tabitha that she never saw coming, and she finds herself asking the question… Was this murder? Or is there more to Tabitha Rice’s story than meets the eye?

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Guest Post Naomi Joy -The inspiration behind Do Her No Harm

My novel Do Her No Harm – a play on the Hippocratic oath declaration Primum non nocere, ‘first, do no harm’ – was inspired by the current state of the non-surgical cosmetics industry in Britain. It’s not very well known, and it certainly surprised me, that in the UK, it is legal for procedures like Botox and dermal fillers to be injected by anyone, regardless of their training or experience.[1]

I was equally stunned to find out that Botulinum toxin – Botox – is the most poisonous biological substance known to humankind[2] – a couple of teaspoons would be enough to kill everyone in the UK – and yet it is so routinely used in an industry that is not currently well regulated.

The industry has seen a boom in recent years thanks, in part, to Instagram. The perfect pouts and filtered faces created in clinics across the country have led an increasing number of people to seek out cheap cosmetic surgery in order to emulate what they see on the platform. As a result, an increasing number are suffering the serious consequences of being injected by untrained and unprofessional individuals. In 2018, Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners, received a whopping 934 complaints from patients regarding unregistered practitioners.

Another documentary, The Botox Bust, took this one step further and found beauticians across the country happy to give Botox to an undercover reporter without a valid prescription, and a struck-off doctor supplying Botox over the phone. The BBC’s One Show found that 17 out of 23 providers visited were happy to offer lip fillers to a 15-year-old.

I found all of this fascinating and just knew I had to write about it. In Do Her No Harm we meet Annabella, an aesthetic nurse who uses these toxins every day. In fact, her entire personality has been shaped by cosmetic procedures, nipping and tucking each time she wants to reinvent herself. With the news that her best friend, Tabitha, is missing, Annabella’s life begins to spiral: her only focus finding out what happened to Tabitha and bringing her kidnapper to justice.


[1] https://www.saveface.co.uk/about-us/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1128745/

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at a prestigious PR firm in London. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in to the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

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Read my review of Do Her No Harm

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Guest post, Romance

The Winter We Met Samantha Tonge #GuestPost @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #festive #Family #Friends #Romance #Christmas #CareHomes #Party #Toys #BlogTour #publicationday #TheWinterWeMet

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

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Guest Post – Samantha Tonge – The Randomness of Life

Have you ever thought about the randomness of life? Sometimes, the way things happen by chance, scares me a little! It’s strange to think that if I’d got my first choice of university (bad interview – long story!) I’d never have met my husband, never have had my children. And when my two started their degrees I thought how strange it was that probably the closest group of friends they would develop for life was going to be determined by an administrator allotting them to a particular room in  a particular halls of residence.

Life is random and that’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if things don’t always go to plan. In fact, the unexpected nature of our existence is, in my opinion, what makes it so exciting. I think back to my student days… I was never going to get married nor have kids, and I was focused on learning languages, translating, nothing to do with being an author. However for many different reasons, my life went down a different path – and who knows where I will be a decade or two from now.

That randomness is what I wanted to capture in The Winter We Met, by  lead character Jess sitting in the wrong seat on an aeroplane and by doing so meeting Nik,  a man who was going to change her life in ways she could never have expected.

Travelling is a great opportunity for chance encounters. I remember aupairing in the south of France when I was nineteen. One day I travelled on a bus to meet a friend. I sat next to a young Frenchman, an artist, and we chatted and laughed all the way. As we parted, both of us knowing we would never meet again, he reached into his bag and gave me a silver pocket watch to remember him by. I still have it today. And for several months afterwards he would send me a postcard with a watercolour he’d paint onto the front.

Then a couple of years later, I had a job in London and commuted every morning. I’d sit on the train reading a French magazine to improve my language skills. Often I’d catch the eye of a particular guy with lovely freckles and a great smile. Eventually we got talking – he’d assumed I was French. And that gave rising to another friendship forming and, under different circumstances, could have easily led to a romance.

Several of my books have been inspired by chance encounters. One Summer In Rome has a blind main character and he was inspired by an incredible woman I met and chatted to on a train, who couldn’t see – she travelled the country alone, with her job, training visually impaired people to use special technology.

Chance encounters, life’s randomness, it’s a wonderful thing because when things are going really badly, when you’re in one of life’s ruts, don’t ever forget that there is always the possibility that something totally unexpected will pull you out of it – and that could be just around the corner.

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

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Read my review of The Winter We Met here

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

The Winter We Met Samantha Tonge 5*#Review @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #festive #multigenerational #Family #Friends #Romance #Christmas #CareHome #Party #Toys #BlogTour #BookReview #publicationday #TheWinterWeMet

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This author always manages to capture the spirit of Christmas in her festive stories. They are fun and often romantic, but they have a deeper, more serious message too.

This story focuses on toy shops and care homes and their residents. It’s about family, friends, having fun and gets across the message that you don’t stop dreaming, feeling and hoping just because you’re getting older and your body and mind are diminishing.

Jess meets Nik on a flight back from a toy fair, they get along and when they land he visits the toy shop where she works. Nik appears to be a kind man, willing to help others, and Jess starts to fall in love with him. Is everything as it appears or is she missing something important?

The characters all bring something to this story. Trying to help them as they lose their security brings Jess and her friends closer to the residents and workers and all have interesting stories to tell. The dynamics of the relationship between friends and family are believable.

The romance is gentle, and a little mysterious for Jess but the ending is realistic and satisfying.

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

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If you want to read Samantha Tonge’s Guest Post on The Randomness of Life. Click here

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Romance

Someday in Paris Olivia Lara 5* #Review @olilara_writes @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #GuestPost #Romance #Serendipity #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #soulmates #Love #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources #SomedayInParis

Finding the one is only the beginning…

1954. Zara is fifteen the first time she meets Leon. During a power cut in a small French museum, the two spend one short hour in the dark talking about their love for art, Monet and Paris. Neither knows what the other looks like. But both know their lives will never be the same.

1963. In Paris, Leon no longer believes he will ever find the girl he lost that night. Zara thinks she has already found him. When they meet at an exhibition, they don’t recognise each other – but the way they feel is so familiar…

Over the course of thirty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together?

‘It’s about dreams and taking chances. Missed opportunities and mistakes. Loss and sacrifice. But above all, it is about love. The kind of love that survives time, distance… even death. The kind of love I wish for you.’

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My Journey to Publication

In May 2020, Someday in Paris, my debut novel was published. I am still incredibly excited, three months later and find reasons to celebrate every single week— getting amazing reviews from readers and bloggers around the world, seeing my book becoming an international bestseller on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo, getting lovely messages from people everywhere, telling me how much they loved the story and how it moved them and sometimes even impacted them. Am I still sometimes pinching myself that I am now a published author? Constantly!

But how did I get to this point? Definitely not overnight. The road to publication, at least for me, was a rollercoaster that officially took five years and unofficially about nine.

Timeline

I wrote partial manuscripts between 2011 and 2015 (I shelved all of them)

I wrote the first book in 2015 (Someday in Paris)

I edited the first book all through 2016

I started the second book in 2017

I got an agent in 2017

It didn’t work out (long story)

I finished the second book in 2018

I got a new agent in the summer of 2018

I edited the first book for the next six months

We went on submission in the Spring of 2019

I wrote a third book in 2019

I signed a 2-book publishing deal in the summer of 2019

Edited the first book some more

Published my first book in the summer of 2020

I wrote a fourth book in 2020

And voila. Here we are.

So what does this all mean?

I think it means…keep at it and it will happen. I could’ve given up countless times between 2011 and 2019. Countless! The journey to publication for almost all new writers is a sum of rejections, silence, waiting, editing, editing again, writing, writing some more, hoping, trying and trying again. Ups and downs and downs and ups. It was the same for me. When I was at my lowest point in this journey (where my younger self would’ve probably just moved on), I stomped my feet, dried my tears, made myself a strong cup of coffee, opened my laptop and kept at it. Was it worth it? Oh, you bet! Knowing my story is out there for people to read, is worth it. Knowing there will be more to come…so worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s next?

My second book will be published next year. And yes, it is a love story, but that’s all I’m going to say for now (except for the fact that I’m super excited to share it with readers everywhere and I hope they will love it as much as I do). I’m also working on my next book. It is a story that’s been with me for quite a while and I feel I’ve let it ‘simmer’ long enough. I’m loving every minute I get to spend with the characters and taking my time with their story, because I know I will be missing them once I type ‘the end’.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A magical romantic tale. Full of love, pain serendipity and tragedy. Fate and faith are instrumental in this gently paced tale. It’s perfect escapism to give flight to your belief in magic and romance. Told from two viewpoints its character-driven, but the setting is vital and almost a character too.

Leave your weary cynicism behind and get lost in this timeless love story.

Olivia Lara

OLIVIA LARA was born and raised in Bucharest in a family of book lovers and storytellers. Since university she has worked as a journalist and marketer in Romania, France and the United States. She is currently a marketing executive in San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, young daughter and four cats. Someday in Paris is her first novel.

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Goodreads Giveaway For eBook copy of Someday in Paris – Olivia Lara

Open to US only

Format:

Kindle book

Availability: 50 copies available.

GIVEAWAY LISTED BY

Head of Zeus

Giveaway dates: Sep 07 – Oct 05, 2020

Countries available: U.S.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

A Perfect Paris Christmas Mandy Baggot 5*#Review @mandybaggot @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Festive #Romance #Friendship #Christmas #Paris #BlogTour #BookReview #FridayReads #SecondChances #Serendipity

United in grief. Pushed apart by tragedy.

 Keeley Andrews knows more than anyone that you only live once. So when she receives an invitation to spend two weeks in Paris, all expenses paid, she jumps at the chance.

Ethan Bouchard has had the worst eighteen months of his life. He’s ready to give up on everything, including his hotel chain. So when he meets Keeley, it simply isn’t the right time.

As Keeley and Ethan continue to bump into each other on the romantic Parisian streets, they can’t help but wonder whether this is fate telling them to let go of the past and leap into the future…

Head to Paris this Christmas and fall in love under the lights of the Eiffel Tower with best-selling author, Mandy Baggot.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

This is no ordinary festive romance, but it fills you with emotion and goodwill. I love serendipitous romance, and this is what we have here, but it’s only a fraction of the story which explores, loss, living life to the full, and friendship against a festive Paris setting.

Sensitively told and well-researched this story takes Keely to Paris for a life-changing meeting. It’s an emotional read with many characters whose stories are intricately woven together into a lovely festive story.

This is a must-read for the festive season.

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Friendship, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Do Her No Harm Naomi Joy 5*#Review @naomijoyauthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Secrets #Lies #DomesticSuspense #Friendship #DoHerNoHarm

One unsolved murder. A best friend determined to right the wrongs of the past.

On the 21st August Tabitha Rice disappeared without a trace. All the signs point to murder, but no signs point to a murderer. The easiest answer is her husband, Rick. But he protests his innocence and there is little proof he is the murderer.

Annabella knows there is more to the story than what the police are telling. Tabitha was her best friend and she vows to uncover the truth.

As Annabella delves further into the past, she uncovers sides to Tabitha that she never saw coming, and she finds herself asking the question… Was this murder? Or is there more to Tabitha Rice’s story than meets the eye?

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I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an intense domestic suspense story. It explores how ordinary people become dark and dangerous.

The story begins with an intriguing situation, full of dramatic irony, the reader knows something is wrong, but the protagonist doesn’t. The story is multi-viewpoint both past, and present. The characters are unreliable protagonists, but they are relatable, and you sympathise with their situations at times. The historic viewpoint illuminates the characters’ motivations, but not all of them until the end.

The author cleverly reveals enough information to make the reader believe they know the twist, but they don’t as there is more than one, which makes this absorbing to the last page.

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at a prestigious PR firm in London. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in to the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

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Inspiration for Do Her No Harm – Naomi Joy Guest Post

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The Never Have I Ever Club Mary Jayne Baker 5*Review @MaryJayneBaker @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #RomCom #humour #multigenerational #ContemporaryFiction #uplit #BlogTour #BookReview #TheNeverHaveIEverClub

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

 Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.

From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.

There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.

Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story is full of charm and humour, which engages you from the first page. Robyn and Will are both likeable protagonists, and you want their attraction to mean something good. Ash is harder to empathise his callous treatment of Robyn is hard to forget. Freya and Eliot are notable characters too.

The story’s multigenerational aspect provides lots of laughs and some poignant moments. It adds authenticity, depth and variety to the story, which is much more than a romance.

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Humour, Motivational, Romance, Travel

The Summer Island Swap Samantha Tonge 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @SamTongeWriter @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #Summer #Holiday #Romance #Humour #Motivational #Extract #BookReview #Conservation #SelfRealisation #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation #TheSummerIslandSwap

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

 After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Humour, originality and romance are all integral to this motivational story. There are good intentions, misunderstandings and an idyllic if not expected setting. Deeper issues of controlling behaviour and conservation add depth and engagement.

Forced out of her comfort level, Sarah confronts issues caused by her difficult childhood. She is conflicted but easy to empathise. Gentle romance is the catalyst for her emotional journey, which is positive and satisfying.

Extract from Summer Island Swop – Samantha Tonge

‘I’ll still have to clear it at work. I’m not sure how Prue will feel about me taking a month off.’

Just the mention of my boss’s name made my stomach knot.

‘No one’s indispensable. Not even wonderful you,’ she called back.

My chest felt warm. Over recent years, Amy had matured and started to look out for me, cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. However, I’d never lose my maternal feelings towards her. When we were ten and six ours was quite an age gap. As was eighteen and fourteen when I’d had to leave her behind with Dad but promised we’d live together again. I beat the sugar and butter, remembering her tears and his folded arms as I dragged my suitcase past the fountain and out of the huge driveway, into the street. I’d finally realised I had to leave after… I swallowed. No. I wasn’t going to think about that now.

I let Nelly into the back garden, busied myself with ingredients and cleaned up whilst the cookies baked. Their sweet aroma wafted through the air as I carried them into the lounge, on a tray, with two coffees.

‘Good timing,’ said Amy and turned off her screen, looking pleased with herself. I put the tray on the table and joined her.

‘Is it all booked?’

She nodded. ‘A modest deposit paid. The rest is due in the middle of June, two weeks before we leave.’

‘Can’t you at least share which part of the world we’re visiting?’

‘That would be telling,’ she replied airily and took the largest cookie.

I jumped up and held her right arm firm whilst tickling the armpit. ‘I won’t stop until I find out, Amy Sterling.’

However, she was as strong as me these days and, giggling, held the cookie in her mouth and forced both of my hands away. I sat down once more. I recognised that expression. She was determined to keep her secret. Sometimes, with my impulsive sister, that could be a dangerous thing, like when she’d agreed to do a charity skydive with colleagues at work. She didn’t tell me until the morning of the jump.

‘Just a clue. A teeny one,’ I said. ‘Please…’

 ‘I’ve never seen you this excited before. Well, not since you were made assistant manager. Oh, and the time you found that fancy moisturiser for half price.’

‘It wasn’t just any moisturiser. The Duchess of Cambridge uses it.’ I pressed my palms together. ‘At least let me guess… the Canary Islands? Barbados? Australia’s an island, right? I mean, you and me – we share most things, don’t we?’

‘Best buddies, always,’ she said solemnly.

It was a promise we’d made to each other, the day after Mum’s funeral. And sure enough, we confided in each other about our latest celebrity crushes, about our dreams for the future; we put the world to rights over Chardonnay and Pringles. I knew her favourite colour, favourite food, favourite band. She could always tell when I’d had a stressful day at work and, without prying, would make me a hot chocolate, fetch a blanket and switch on my current Netflix obsession.

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.

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